Outdoor Educators Institute

Applications for OEI are now closed. Please check back for updates and stay connected with us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


The Outdoor Educators Institute develops the next generation of culturally relevant outdoor leaders by building competencies and leadership skills in young adults who have encountered hurdles or lacked the resources to work in the outdoors. The Outdoor Educators Institute is, at its core, advocacy for the inclusion and centering of underrepresented populations, especially those that have had historic and systemic barriers to accessing the outdoors.

For participants, it provides a clear path to a profession through representation and culturally relevant trainings. Through training passionate young adults, we begin shifting the narrative of the outdoors from one traditionally held solely by people with power and privilege to that of one that includes and embraces people from all walks of life, and reflects the realities of the youth that will become future champions of the earth.

For the field, OEI establishes the method by which the next generation of racially and socioeconomically diverse outdoor educators are prepared for service, creating the opportunity for underrepresented youth to see and identify with people in outdoor education programs who look like them and come from similar backgrounds.

The OEI Program

OEI is one of our flagship yearly programs, through which we support young adults interested in pursuing a career in outdoor education, facilitation, and leadership through an immersive training program through once-a-week evening meetings and weekend sessions over a three-month period. OEI cohorts meet with partner organizations for weekend programming, and have the support of program staff who have all been through the OEI program themselves.

OEI trainees will learn and practice a variety of outdoor skills necessary to becoming a culturally relevant outdoor leader. OEI connects participants to opportunities for outdoor employment, internships, and volunteering, as well as supports participants in building outdoor programming for their communities (i.e. friends, family, school groups and clubs, community orgs, etc.). Whether a participant is looking to enter the outdoor industry as an individual, or to develop their capacity to bring their own communities into the outdoors, OEI is a space for them to share, grow, and authentically connect with like minded others.

Primary Training Components (all components are subject to availability and change of partner organizations and safety during the pandemic)

  • Backpacking Expedition: Expedition planning, navigation, and backpacking and group camping management skills
  • Sea Kayaking: Kayaking skills, water safety, and group management in water sports
  • Outdoor Education: Teaching youth of all ages in a natural setting and curriculum building for diverse populations
  • Conservation Skills: Trail maintenance, safe tool use, and restoration and stewardship philosophy
  • Climbing: Climbing technique, anchor building, bouldering, and safe belay trainings
  • Professional Skills: Program planning, job site skills, giving and receiving feedback, and program budgeting
  • Equity, Inclusion and Cultural Relevancy: Workshops, discussion and practical skills to address social injustice

Beyond OEI

Outdoor Program Creation & Support: Participants and their community partner agencies will be given access to resources to create, implement, and strengthen outdoor programming. Resources include mentorship from industry professionals, discounted and free activities from delivery partners, and information and opportunities to apply for outdoor program funding.

Access to Outdoor Expedition Partners: Participants will be better situated to connect their communities to the outdoors utilizing industry leaders and best practices through networking and relationship building with local and national outdoor programs.

Internships, Volunteer Opportunities and Employment: Accepted participants will be connected to local and national outdoor nonprofits and encouraged to continue to grow professionally, by participating as a volunteer, intern, or employee for an outdoor organization.

Access to continued programs at Justice Outside, including our OEI: Pathfinders program. OEI: Pathfinders is designed to help our community develop their own outdoor equity-oriented projects.


  • Commitment to attend and complete this three-month program is mandatory, including once-a week evening workshops and weekend trainings. Weekends often consist of full days in-person or multiple hours virtually. OEI is a significant time and energy commitment!
  • Strong desire to bring outdoor programs to under-represented communities. OEI prioritizes those who have had historic and systemic barriers to accessing the outdoors.
  • Currently involved in or has a strong desire to engage in the outdoor field, especially in an urban-based outdoor program. Prior experience is not required.

Important Dates

  • Early application deadline: January 26
  • Application final deadline: February 9 
  • Kickoff: March 4 – 5


Contact our Bay Area OEI Program Coordinator Lau Hernandez at lau@justiceoutside.org.